Motivation and Success

Failure is not an option, it’s an inevitability.  But this is a good thing, if you let it.  And I’ll tell you why.  Bear with me.

I have often heard it said that actors are lazy people.  Maybe writers are as well.  Since I’m currently trying to function as both, I suppose that is a double whammy of laziness.  An artist is only as good as he allows himself to be.  If you get in your own way, you won’t grow.  Art requires discipline.  It also requires a massive amount of trial and error.  This summer I found myself smiling when I read an excellent albeit relatively obscure Thomas Edison quote: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

What a great quote!  And yet completely infuriating at the same time.  A lot of people, whether or not they will admit to this, believe there is some element of luck in their lives.  “Oh, funny meeting you here, that was lucky!” or “What were the odds this would happen at the same time as this?”  “I can’t believe this is happening, this NEVER happens to me!” ad infinitum.  Substitute your own context, but at some point we’ve all experienced moments we might call “lucky.”  Switch that scenario around in your mind.  “Damn, this always happens to me.  What are the odds?” or “I can’t believe this happened again!  What did I do to deserve this?” or “Of all the people in the world, it had to be me.  This is not my night.”   And again, intuit your own response in a real life situation.

But what if this luck could be controlled?  I know, I’m starting to sound like one of those self-help, get-rich-quick writers that pump out waves of feel-good get-your-life-back-on-the-right-track bullshit year after year.  But honestly, if you studied something, if you trained so hard in something for long enough, if you were completely unapologetic about who you are and what you love and REFUSED to give up – you might just create your own lucky situation.  Actually, it wouldn’t be called “lucky” at that point, it would just be called success.

Some people say it is pointless to beat your head against the same brick wall over and over again (and again, substitute your own obstacles for that brick wall) but that person is far more likely to break through that wall than someone who never so much as nudges it, let alone ignores it altogether.  Highly successful individuals (and yes, there are people in the world who seem to be successful for no good reason) usually tend to be the individuals that have exhausted all possible options.  Failure is not only a possibility, it is an inevitability.  But because these individuals have embraced that knowledge (thus destroying a fear of failure), they are not restrained by the brick walls in their lives.  Some of the most inspiring individuals I can think of are famous or historically-recognized because they broke through what many would consider an impossible brick wall.  By shattering expectations, they created their own success.  They were driven by their own motivation, whatever that may have been drawn from (God, passion, love for country, family, justice, equality, etc.)  No wall can contain such individuals.

Our will to succeed should be one of the strongest wills in our life.  Now, let me explain that, because at face value many might disagree.  Success is a very personal issue.  Your idea of success may be very different from your friend’s, and very different still from someone like Tom Cruise or Mahatma Gandhi (I doubt you will see those two individuals mentioned  in the same sentence again for quite some time).  Success, while often equated with money, love, power, or fame, is much more specific and much more personal than that.  Yes, most of us would love to have any and all of those things.  But if any of us were handed all of those things tomorrow, would we truly feel successful?

I can’t speak for others, but I wouldn’t feel successful at all because I would realize I hadn’t earned those things – I hadn’t worked for them.  Success for me is not the achievement of my desires, it is the degree to which I pursue those dreams and ambitions with every ounce of my passion.  Success is a process, the manner in which we live our lives, not the outcome from such a life.  In that sense, even I died a poor, lonely, powerless man known to no one in the world, I would still consider myself successful if I had pursued my dreams to the fullest of my capabilities.

But, just like luck, success is rarely a complete accident.  I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, although I respect that many would disagree.  In a world filled with so much chaos and hate and uncertainty, it is very easy to say that we and all that exist are merely a cosmic accident.  But I think that’s a bit of a cop out.  Neither luck nor success fall on the favored few that by the decision of the fates or the role of the dice happened to be in the right place at the right time – success is found in how we live our lives with what we have been given, despite what has been put in our way.  We make our own success.

So although it is possible I could die a lonely, sad and forgotten man (a sobering thought for me, but again, substitute your own reality!), if I pursue my dreams with utmost commitment, I see no reason why I should not find success.  I’ll be living it.  To put it bluntly, “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”  And I’ll thank Bob Dylan for that one.

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~ by Ross on September 28, 2009.

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